Every Memorial Day we remember the cost of our freedom in the lives of all those who paid the supreme sacrifice for our country. Every war has its cost. Millions have laid down their lives to defend our way of life and to defeat tyrannies. We erect monuments, war memorials, to the fallen. Everything that we value has its cost. Shame on us if we forget or take for granted what we owe to those who have protected us and saved us from our enemies.
Take this sentiment and magnify it a trillion times and we will begin to appreciate the cost of our salvation. In Holy Week we remember what our salvation cost the Son of God. Forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption cannot be achieved on the cheap. Eternal life was purchased at great cost so that it might be freely given to us. Divine love is sacrificial love. How can we count the cost to Jesus? How did he express what it cost him?
After the supper in the upper room Jesus led his disciples to the Mount of Olives. He told them that they would leave him that very night. Peter protested that he would never fall away from Jesus or disown him. All the other disciples said the same. Jesus took them to Gethsemane and left them to pray. He took Peter and James and John aside and said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”
Tim Keller describes Jesus as “experiencing an internal and mental agony so unbearable that he felt like the pain alone could kill him right there and then… He’s reeling, dumbfounded, astonished. As he is on his way to pray, a darkness and horror comes down on him beyond anything he could have anticipated, and the pain of it makes him feel he is disintegrating on the spot.” (T. Keller, Encounters with Jesus, p.15)
Why is this so? Christian martyrs, like Stephen and others faced death with serenity. Jesus told his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled…..” (John 14:1). Why was Jesus so troubled? Should not he, above all people, be able to face death with equanimity?